Stopped In Their Tracks: It’s Going To Be All Right.
Writer’s Note: I first recorded this blog entry in February 2016. It was during a time of storms and health scares and God showed up to comfort me in a miraculous and undeniable way. I share this again because God continues to guide me through a series of other storms, bringing my mind back to this very event. Thankfully, He continues to comfort me and let me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is right here with me and it is indeed going to be all right. I don’t necessarily know the details of how it will all work out, but He is PATIENTLY teaching me that I don’t have to know. I just have to know and TRUST Him. If you are going through anything at all right now, if you feel scared, alone, or simply need something to boost your faith, I hope you will read this. God loves us, y’all. He really, really does!
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.—Hebrews 11:1
What a beautiful, hope-inspiring verse. It flows like honey from the lips of whomever recites it and gives comfort to all who struggle with the troubles and tribulations that are guaranteed to come as long as we continue to live and breathe this side of Heaven.
However, when you are in the midst of those troubles, most of us would be less than truthful if we said that we did not ever doubt. Indeed, sometimes our confidence in what we hope for DOES wane. Sometimes we’re NOT so assured that the things we cannot see are fully under the control of a loving God who will use them for our good.
The fact is, sometimes, when life gets hard, uncertainty will often fuel fear instead of hope and, if you are like me, it becomes more about survival—just putting one foot in front of the other—than it does about resting in peace and hope. It becomes more about drifting in seclusion and fear than living in the presence of God and trusting His promises fully and completely.
Truth be told, as much as I love God and as much as I know in my heart that He is always present and always worth trusting, I have still loitered in a self-imposed seclusion at times; wandered aimlessly through shadowy valleys where cares and concerns take the form of dark and menacing shadows hell-bent on blocking the light in my life. In fact, over the past few months, it feels like I have stood frozen and wrought in fear more than I have walked in peace and rested in trust and faith, even though I absolutely know better.
Thank God I know better. Thank God for the proverbial and omnipresent life-line that He continually invites us to grab hold of and uses to pull us back to a place where we can see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Thank God, He never gives up. No matter how many times we drift away and lose sight, He just keeps offering Himself to us over and over and over, repeatedly reminding us that He is right beside us and worthy of our trust.
So, as I continued to occupy that valley between fear and worry and complete trust in Him, God started pulling me back to Himself. And, just as He often does when there is something He wants me to really hear, He began putting the subject in my path so many times and in so many ways that it was simply impossible to deny. It seemed that He used practically every thing I read and heard to assert the same truth. Trust Me, He said again and again.
And, trust me, I had heard quite a few messages in the last couple of weeks. Realizing my spiritual and prayer life was collecting dust, I had recommitted myself to the daily habit of spending my half hour drive to and from work either praying or listening to podcasts by various preachers and teachers. It’s something I had enjoyed for several years and I was hoping that it would get me reconnected and out of this cycle of fear and worry which I had fallen into. And, of course, never one to disappoint, God Almighty, the Teacher of teachers, showed up and picked up right where we left off.
Now, I don’t want to say that He harped on and on about that one thing that I was obviously needing most at this point in time, but I will say He was quite persistent. Days turned into weeks and podcast after podcast, sermon after sermon, in one way or another, all dealt with same subject: trusting Him; living in His presence; walking and dwelling with the Holy Spirit; not fearing; and, finally, believing in His good plan for my life, no matter what.
Everyday. It didn’t matter who was delivering it, the message was the same. Steven Furtick. Andy Stanley. Joyce Meyer. Louie Giglio. Over and Over. I couldn’t hide from it. Though, truth be told, I really didn’t want to.
I wanted nothing more than to honor God and find that place of peace for myself where my trust in Him is unbridled. And, so, on my way home one day, after hearing Joyce Meyer preach on the Holy Spirit, I turned off my radio and began to pray. From the Eisenhower exit to Hartley Bridge, I prayed for God to once again heighten my ability to sense the Holy Spirit as well as my ability and desire to follow His lead. I asked to hear His voice loud and clear and to once again be able to trust that everything in my life would be used by Him. I asked for reassurance that it—that I—really was going to be okay. “God, show me that it’s going to be okay,” I pleaded.
As I rode along praying from the deepest reaches of my heart, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this feeling that I was in danger. Completely out of the blue, I sensed that there were deer in the woods parallel to the interstate I was driving on and that, at any moment, that they were going to dart in front of my car. I can’t explain it, but it was so real and so intense that I began to feel panicked.
My first instinct was to brake and slow down, for I figured that slowing down would either keep me from hitting them or, at the very least, lessen the impact. However, when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a car practically tailgating me, rendering that plan null and void. Next, I considered changing into the middle lane, thinking that I could perhaps put a little more distance between myself and them, but, yet again, a car was fast approaching there as well.
Finally, I did the only thing I could think of left to do, and I blurted out the following plea, “Lord, please just stop them in their tracks! Stop them in their tracks, Father!”
Just like that, the feeling of looming danger dissipated just as quickly as it had started. I took a deep breath and thanked God for this unseen, but deeply felt occurrence. The sense of danger had been so real, but, thankfully, this peaceful, safe feeling felt just as real. That in itself was enough, yet my impromptu lesson on trust wasn’t quite over. Just as I was exhaling a breath of relief, my eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the woods just beyond the road’s shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, standing tall, his body half in the woods and half out, was a deer! Head held high, looking in my direction and poised like he had literally been stopped in his tracks!
Though I would have been content with the feeling of relief I experienced a split second earlier, God knew that I needed to see it with my own two eyes. In fact, if you recall, I had just asked Him to come close and to show me that it was going to be okay; that I was going to be okay; and He did just as I had asked! Astounded, I immediately began to gush words of thanksgiving and praise.
Oh, how very much he taught me in those precious seconds and in the hours that followed as I recounted this beautiful experience.
For one, my initial response, as you may recall, was to try and do something myself. I checked the rearview mirror to see if I could slow down and then checked the side mirror to see if I could change lanes. Then and only then did I call out to our Lord to take control of the situation. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time. I try everything in my power first, when I could save myself a whole lot of trouble by just asking God for help to begin with.
Secondly, I fully believe the woods are symbolic of things that have been going on in my life. Unknown things, such as my health, have been weighing heavily on me and causing angst. But, in just a few moments while driving down I-75, our beautiful Father in Heaven sent me a reminder that just like He controlled that deer in the woods that He was also in control of my health, my future and anything else that I might not be able to see. All I have to do is call out to Him.
Lord, I will never be able to thank You enough for answering me when I call out to You and for being relentless in Your pursuit of me. No matter how many times my trust falters, You never, ever leave my side. Thank you for SHOWING Yourself to me when I need it most and doing so in such a way that I know, without a doubt, that it is You. I shall never forget the image of that deer standing on the roadside, half in the woods and half out, obviously stopped in his tracks just by my asking. Your word says, “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And, as always, you are true to Your word. My dear sweet Jesus, I promise to work on trusting in You completely; to remember that You see everything that is going on—even the things behind the scenes—and that, no matter what, you will use it all for my good, all because I’m your child and I love you. Thank you for loving me so and for teaching me to look at everything through eyes of faith and trust. Oh what a difference it makes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen!
All Is ‘Whale’ With My Soul
As I lay in bed trying my best NOT to wake up early this morning it was as if God started tugging at the covers. The tighter I pulled them around my shoulders, creating a cozy little comfort zone, the harder he tugged. He often does this when I have been absent from our special morning time together for longer than I should or if I’m dragging my feet on something He has asked me to do. God’s not big on earthly comfort zones and, though I usually fuss about it at the time, I really am thankful that he doesn’t let me kick back too long.
This morning it was about digging deeper into some things I just keep putting off. Truth be told, I often put things off, sometimes for a very long time, years in fact. Fear of failure and rejection, says I. Disobedience and distrust, says He.
As I lay there silently arguing with him and preoccupying myself with a game on my phone, His still, small voice grew louder to the point that I could no longer ignore Him and, just as I gave in and put my phone away, I heard him whisper the name Jonah.
Jonah? Like the guy that got swallowed by the whale? That Jonah?
Jonah, I heard again, as I reached over to pick up my Bible. Flipping through the Old Testament, I finally landed on the book of Jonah and began to read. And the more I read, the more I began to understand. Never in my life had I seen myself in this particularly story, but here in this moment, on the pages of my own bible, Jonah, it seemed, was synonymous with B-R-E-N-D-A.
Like Jonah, I have been running from certain aspects of God’s calling on my life and, as I read his reflections as he was entombed inside the belly of that great fish, I felt compelled to read the words aloud.
Jonah, Chapter 2
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ” 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Honestly, I think I have been in the belly of a whale for a while now. And thank God. Thank God that he hasn’t given up on me; that he still finds me worthy of my purpose.
One way or another, He will get me there. Who am I to complain about the mode of transportation?
I’m coming, Nineveh. I’m coming.
Amen and Ehmen.
The Ailing Atheist Argument
While I may never be able to convince an atheist that there is a God, I can guarantee you that an atheist will never convince me that there isn’t. And it’s not about what I know from books or people. It’s from personal experience that I KNOW. To live without God is unimaginable to me. Even one minute without Him would be too much.
Note: I posted this on Facebook last year on this day, the morning after watching a Bill Maher set at work. Up to that point, I guess I had never really listened to an atheist, but on that night as I listened to Bill mock religion as well as God Himself, I wondered what could have possibly happened to him to get him to that place. It made me sad to know that this existence is all he and those like him will ever know. 😦
Matthew 10:33 says:
But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
I can’t even imagine! And so thankful for that. Amen and Ehmen.
Of Sheep and Shepherds…Of Lost and Found
Good Morning, God.
It’s 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday and, though I was honestly hoping to sleep in, I am so very happy to spend some quiet time with you. I learn so much when my world, both the external and internal, is quiet; when it’s just You and me; when Your Peace floats down from heaven and settles like a warm blanket over me. Oh, sweet Jesus, there is simply nothing like it. Thank you for waking me up on this beautiful morning.
This morning, I am drawn into Your Word, specifically Romans 10, Verses 8-10:
“In fact, it says, ‘The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:8-10
Lord, I pray this morning that you really open Your Word up to me in a way like never before; let it be as if I am peering into a place where it is played out before my very eyes; beckon me in and allow me to mingle among not just the words, but with You, the One that breathed them into being; the One that breathed me into being. Take my hand, Lord. Take my heart, Lord. Send me. Use me. Allow me to fulfill Your will and purpose for me and to encourage and enflame others to do so as well; for life without You and Your promise and Your grace is no life at all, but simply a miserable existence. I love you, Lord, with all my heart and soul. Thank you for Jesus; for the gift of salvation.
Thank you for giving me the desire and the means to openly declare that Jesus is Lord and to believe in my heart that You raised him from the dead; for because of these things, I am saved and am promised eternal life with You! Oh, how I want to shout it from the rooftops! The Good News that we are saved by grace and not by works…that we are saved by a free gift that is ours for the taking. Lord, thank you for that…thank you for You. Amen and Ehmen.
Dear Child of Mine:
Oh, how I love you and how I love spending time with you. You know, time is something I gave you to help keep order in your world; to help you in fulfilling My will and purposes for you. There just seems to be something about the ticking of the clock, the passing of second, minutes, days, weeks and years that eventually brings about a sense of urgency and getting My message to the world is an urgent matter, just as it always has been. In fact, child, it is just as critical that My message be spread across the world today as it was back in the days of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And your role in spreading that message is just as important as it was for Paul and the rest of the disciples. The fact is, My child, there are souls, sheep, out there that need to hear your voice; your declaration of faith; your story of what I have done for you; your story of once being lost but now found. This, my child, is why you are here—to help spread the Good News and find My other lost sheep, each one of whom is very valuable to Me and to my Kingdom; not just as a group, but as individuals as well. Have you ever noticed that the word sheep is the same whether referring to one single living creature or a billion? Just as the quantity does not change the word, the quantity does not change the importance of My sheep to Me. One lost sheep grieves me just as much as numbers that you can not even count. They are one and the same to Me. This is why your calling is so very important; infinitely and eternally important. Embrace it, My child; relish in the fact that you are no longer a lost sheep yourself and know that I am celebrating that as well; shouting with glee from My throne in heaven; but also don’t waste any precious time in embracing your new “found” position as one of My own shepherds. You only have a limited amount of time on earth. Grab hold of each minute as if it were your last; take hold of My hand and the hands of time and let not a single opportunity pass by to shepherd the lost back into the flock. Oh what joy it brings when the lost is found! Oh what joy you bring Me, My child! What joy it brings to see My will being done on earth. My Kingdom is on its way, My dear child, and Heaven is is just a blink away! And until that twinkling happens, until you are with Me here in Heaven, I will remain there with you at all times, cradling your heart and spirit so that you need not fear ever being lost again; eternity started for you the moment that you were found and declared your love for me. I want all of My children to experience that; to experience Me. Oh, how I love My children.
And the Word of God Says…
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:3-7
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
–Amen and Ehmen!
Comfort from The Creator
Writer’s Note: I was reading through some old messages and ran across this that was written for my dear friend who had recently lost her best friend and husband. While it was meant to comfort her in that moment, I found it comforting myself today and thought I would share.
I was in the middle of working the other day when I got this little “God nudge” as I often do and when I opened the blank page this is what came out:
“Sweet, sweet child of mine, don’t you know how much I love you. My love for you is more vibrant than even the largest expanse of buttercups growing on My green earth. It is deeper than the deepest swallows of the ocean and higher than the beautiful blue skies suspended above My own Heavens. I know you hurt. I know you are missing him. But, oh my, has he brightened things up here. What a heart he has, full of love. Thank you for sending him back to me in such good shape. I’m taking good care of him and we both eagerly await the day of your arrival. Please, my child, take that knowledge that we are waiting for you and live out your days with joy. There is so much left to do there on earth; so much that only you can do. I promised you hope and a future and I always make good on my promises. I just need you to listen for me; listen for my whispers; listen for me in the silence of the night; the quietness of an empty house. Talk to me always; in your heart; with your mouth; when you are alone or when you are in a crowd. Whisper my name when the devil attacks you. No matter how loud he gets in your head, even a whisper of my name will squelch him. I am right here. I AM.”
Lord, thank you for these precious words and times together. And thank you for your unending comfort and love. May we have many more “blank page” conversations in 2016. I can think of no better way to spend the year. Much love from earth to heaven. Amen and Ehmen.
Happiness is Fleeting…
As I looked to God for some peace during these crazy days, he sent me back in time to a journal entry I made quite awhile ago and, while my part of the conversation is too personal to share at this juncture and the situation far different, this excerpt from His part is applicable and timely for me today. Perhaps it will be for you as well. Amen and Ehmen.
“Breath in, inhale my Word, My child. You are far from alone and your story does not depend upon another human. I am so proud of you for being so intent on fulfilling my will and purpose for you. Please stay the course as I promise you that it will be well worth it. You, my child, are on the fast-track to joy and joy trumps happiness any day of eternity. Many people that you know, including yourself, still get caught up in seeking happiness, but happiness is fleeting. One rain fall can wash it away. One gust of wind can grab it from your grasp. Joy, on the other hand, like me, will never leave you. You may not recognize it, but it is there for the taking. Believe in me and I will give you peace and joy. Talk to me and ask me and I will give you the ability to see. I love you and, in the end, that really is all that matters. Stick with me. The best days are still ahead!
In The Storms…
It’s really not that complicated…
Me: “But, God, what do I tell those who are struggling with sin in their lives? I mean how can I possibly help them when I am a sinner, too.”
God: “You make things much too complicated. What do you tell them? Tell them that I love them. Tell them that I am here for them. That’s all. And then let Me do the rest.”
Live By Truth Not By Feelings…
Note: It has admittedly been awhile since I woke up and spent time with the Father via the blank page. However, He’s been waking me up a lot lately and this morning I decided it was time. I have been struggling and, for whatever reason, when struggling, I sometimes allow myself to become distanced from God. I blame it on needing sleep and wind up tossing and turning. This morning I turned myself back to His Voice. And, as per usual, He did not disappoint! Look at the scripture He gave me! I do not know the Bible that well; at least from a standpoint of where scriptures are specifically. But, when I earnestly ask, He always answers and it is always just what I need at that moment. I sure love Him. Praise you, Jesus! Amen and Ehmen!
September 30, 2015, 6:45 a.m.
Hi, God. I’m sorry it has been so long since I met you here on the blank page. I have definitely let life get in the way of our time together; which, I know makes no sense at all. It’s when life gets hard that I need this time with You even more. And, yet, I struggle to get here. I let the enemy use my health, fatigue, worry, frustration and despair to keep me from truly focusing on the only One that can give me peace. I know better and yet I let it happen. But, not today! Even though I only have about 10 more minutes before I have to get ready for my earthly responsibilities, I know that I know that You will use them in an incredible way, teaching me and directing me as I continue along my journey to You. Lord, I need You more than ever. I feel scared. Alone. Hurt. Unsettled. And I feel disappointed in myself for feeling those things for I know that with You that I am safe, never alone, cared for and that my future is secure. Remind me, Lord. Draw me so close to You that I can see and feel only You. I love you, with all my heart and soul. Amen and Ehmen.
Oh my dear, dear child:
Pick up My Word and read Romans 8:6.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Child, you must get out of your feelings and into My Truth. Your feelings are a product of your flesh and they can lead you far away from me. The enemy loves to trap you in them; to weld them together into a chain with which he can keep you in bondage. But, my child, never fear for I Am strong in your weakness. I can break any chain that holds you. You must let this seep in deep, deep into your spirit. You must let it take root in your mind. Yes, your flesh is weak, but I AM strong. Your flesh is weak, but it is in your weakness that My strength is made PERFECT. Just hold tight to Me, child. Trust in Me. It is human to feel this way some times, but don’t stay there. Allow Me to use it to draw you closer to Me. Breathe in My Spirit and exhale utter peace and joy knowing that I AM with you always. You are My daughter and I love you with all My heart. You are a part of My plan and My purpose and have been since before you were born. Before the foundation of the earth was formed, I knew your name. And like the earth and all that has ever inhabited it, I spoke you into being. You were a Word, a breath from My own mouth. Because I knew you before you were born, I know every, single detail about you. I know your beginning, your present and your end and it is PERFECT; not always easy, but PERFECT. Just wait until you see the big picture, child. It will blow you away and all of this; every single detail of your life will make glorious sense. But, for now, you just have to trust Me. Walk the path in front of you, keeping your eyes always locked on Me. And, if you do get distracted, never fear. Just reach out and I will be there to grab your hand. You will never sink; not on My watch. I promise you that. I love you, child. Go, go about your day and see Me in the little things. Feel Me. Feel My presence all around you. For in Me, you will have peace and fullness of life. Memorize Romans 8:6 and hold it close to your heart. Repeat it when you begin to feel anything but Me.